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2010-10-06 13:10:55

Employment discrimination against teachers

statement, October 23rd, 2010

Why does the minister of an EU member state makes decisions and releases statements which are undoubtedly at variance with basic human rights? – inquired Fred van Leeuwen,EI General Secretary three years ago in reference to actions and declarations by the then Minister of National Education Roman Giertych.

Unfortunately, today Fred van Leeuwen’s words are still timely.  Elżbieta Radziszewska, Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment is not a member of the Cabinet, nonetheless she is a highly important representative of the government administration responsible for counteraction against discrimination  on grounds of gender, ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, age and sexual orientation. That is why ZNP (Union of Polish Teachers) consider her statement regarding employment of teachers in Catholic schools to be scandalous and violating basic human rights, for prohibition of discrimination is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed, among others, in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that “everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”

Prohibition of discrimination  – among others regarding employment – is present further in many various sources of international law (in 111 Convention of the International Labour Organisation, in The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or in Convention on Eliminiation of Discrimination Against Women) and in Polish law. Public statements of  a Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment permitting a dismissal of a teacher on grounds other than sanctioned by the law are, in our mind, unacceptable, especially in the context of the role of education and mission of the school . It is the school that is to teach tolerance, respect for others, observance of the law and responsibility, and the education should be governed by the equal-opportunity policy.                                    

Does teaching about tolerance not concern Catholic schools? Do they have the permission to discriminate their employees?  Is it acceptable for a Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment to tolerate such dealings? The answer is no. Therefore, as a trade union active in education, we strongly oppose discrimination against teachers and assessing their competences and skills through the prism of their sexual orientation. We encourage all teachers from public and private schools to actively participate in equal treatment efforts. One of the possible means of fighting against discrimination is to join or found a trade union.         

Sławomir Broniarz, the President of ZNP